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imply Well

Befriend Your Feelings

© John W Travis MD, MPH

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Simply Well by John W Travis MD, MPH. View all columns in series

Here is a simple exercise that will help you sensitize yourself to how and where emotions affect your body, and will encourage you to accept emotions as natural expressions of your being. You can do this exercise alone or invite a friend to help you.

  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable place. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply to help you relax.
  2. Repeat the following phrases five times each, very slowly but energetically, so you can really generate the mood of the phrase. (Or ask your friend to say them for you.) As you speak, focus all of your attention on the physical sensations that these words evoke. * I am scared. * I give up. * I hate you. * I love you. * Please don?t leave me. * No, no, no. * Yes, yes, yes. Add an emotionally charged phrase of your own. Try to sense where these various emotions "live" in your body and how they affect you physically.
  3. Repeat the exercise, but this time let the feelings come and go as if they were currents of air blowing through you. You can learn to feel your feelings without identifying with them so closely that they overpower you. Let fear be there. Let discouragement be there. Don't try to chase them away. Look at them. Then move on to the next emotional statement.
  4. Share with your friend, or write about, what you have learned as a result of doing this.

Reprinted with permission, from Simply Well by John W. Travis, MD, & Regina Sara Ryan. Copyright 2001. Celestial Arts, Berkeley, CA.

The online version of Dr. Travis' Wellness Inventory may be accessed at ( The Wellness Inventory may also be licensed by coaches, health and wellness professionals, and organizations.

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About The Author
John W. Travis, MD, MPH, is the creator of the Wellness Inventory and its parent, the Wellness Index. He is the founder and co-director of Wellness Associates, a consulting and publishing group whose mission is to transform the culture from its current focus on authoritarianism/domination into......more
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